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Stanton Drew Stone Circles and Cove

By , Tuesday 5th November 2013 in Ancient World

The Stanton Drew Stone Circle or, to be more precise, three stone circles, dates from around 3000 BC and enjoys a relatively isolated location well off the beaten track. The stones themselves stand sullen and silent - brooding guardians of ancient mysteries around which all manner of legends and ghostly tales have been woven.

Although twice the size of its more famous cousins, Stonehenge and Avebury, it is a lot less well known and has managed to retain a distinctive aura of detachment and solitude.

Although archaeological excavation at the site has been minimal, there is evidence to suggest that a huge structure once stood inside the Great Circle. Consisting of 27 stones, most of which lie recumbent, the circle measures 112m (367ft) across. This prompts the theory that the megalithic remains were once part of a much more complex and important site. A recent magnetometer survey of the site found a highly elaborate pattern of buried pits arranged in nine concentric rings within the main circle. However, there are, at the time of writing, no plans for any excavation and, consequently, the historical facts remain sparse and the stones will be allowed to keep their secrets, at least for the foreseeable future.
Stanton Drew Stone Circles
Stanton Drew Stone Circles

Where history remains mute, however, folklore and legend have been more than happy to step into the void, providing their own intriguing explanation as to the origin of the stones.

Tradition holds that they are the petrified remains of a wedding party, turned to stone by the Devil! The story goes that a great wedding feast was held in the vicinity on a Saturday, and everyone was enjoying themselves immensely. The bride, a little intoxicated by the flowing drink and lively carousing, urged the fiddler to play on, even though the Sabbath was rapidly approaching. The fiddler refused, whereupon the bride exclaimed that the dancing would continue even if she had to go to Hell to find a fiddler. It was an unwise outburst, for no sooner had the words left her mouth than a tall stranger appeared in their midst and struck up a merry jig. Faster and faster the guests twirled, swirled and spun, each of them unable to stop, as the dance went on and on through the night. Come the dawn they had all been turned to stone, and the fiddler, who was, of course, the Devil himself, had seized their souls and spirited them away to the fires of Hell.

Stanton Drew Stone Circles
Stanton Drew Stone Circles

So it is that the sullen stones are said to be the petrified bodies of the guests, while a grouping of two standing stones and one recumbent stone located in the garden of the village pub - the Druids Arms - are said to be the mortal remains of the bride, bridegroom and parson. There is also a belief that confusion, even death, awaits anyone who attempts to count the stones. Some say that this can never be done accurately because attempts to do so will always wield a different total. Others say that you will drop dead before completing the task.

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